ISSUE 13, April 2005

The Campbells are coming: At speed!
Travel: Warming to Iceland
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part II
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and: Report of the Board of General Purposes
The flying eye hospital
Beamish Museum: The million pound project
  Wigan Grand Lodge: The Liverpool rebels
Chelsea Lodge: That's entertainment
Re-enactment: The way we were and: The Russian connection
Community Service: Weathering the storm
Faith and Freemasonry: God and the Craft
Education: Researching Freemasonry on the Internet and: Masonic events
Freemasons Hall: Masons at War
Grand Charity: Report and grant list and: Support for Asian tsunami
Masonic Charities: Reports from the Masonic charities
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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The million pound project

Provincial Grand Master Dr A M Davison at the ceremony to lay the foundations of the Masonic hall at the Beamish Museum
    The story began in 1996 when Lord Barnard, at that time Provincial Grand Master of Durham, invited ideas for a suitable millennium project for the Province of Durham.
    A brilliant idea was accepted from Dorothy, wife of Provincial Grand Secretary Alan Hall, that a Masonic Hall could be built in the reconstructed 1913 town at the world famous Beamish Museum in the North of England.
    The town portrays, in exact detail, as it would have been in 1913, with buildings rebuilt and filled with genuine items from the period. It includes a bank, Co-op store, shops, a row of terraced houses containing a dentist surgery, music teacher rooms, with many other exciting memories from the past, including tramcars passing down the cobbled street.
    An approach was made to Beamish, who welcomed the idea, and a feasibility plan was produced under the guidance of Dr A M Davison, the present Provincial Grand Master.
    After a discussion with Beamish, it was decided to inspect a nearby derelict Masonic hall in Sunderland built in 1869, to assist in putting together a national appeal for a suitable frontage. The frontage was purchased and the stonework dismantled for storage at Beamish Museum.
    Eventually the project was approved at a budget of just over £1m, of which £500,000 has been raised by Durham members as the Masonic contribution.
    In the millenium year, 350 Freemasons in full Masonic regalia processed through the town at Beamish, to escort the PGM to lay the foundation stone, watched by 3,000 people, a spectacle not seen in the Province for over 70 years. Erection of the building commenced in1994 with the 1869 frontage being rebuilt by a specialist stonemason.
    The building, when opened to the public in Spring 2006, will be full of Masonic detail and décor of the highest quality, especially the main Lodge room, built in the form of a double cube. Upstairs, the story of Freemasonry up to 1913 will be depicted and the visitors will see again, from the organ platform, the magnificent Lodge room with its stained glass and chequered marble floor.
    This exciting flagship project will allow more than 350,000 people to pass through its doors every year, promoting our openness to the outside world and presenting a true insight into our honourable Order.
    Furnishing the building with quality furniture and artefacts to the highest standard is difficult and we are in great need of suitable Master and Wardens chairs, two large pillars and indeed any quality items for this massive prestigious Masonic project.
    If you can contribute or have any information which may help, please contact Tom Coulson on 01915 675365 (Province) or John Gall on 01913 704 000 (Beamish).

Tom Coulson is chairman and curator of the Provincial Museum at Durham

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